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If Trump Ends DACA, Beware the Spin

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If Administration claims they are “acting with heart” and “humanely winding it down,” don’t buy it; Ending DACA and disrupting the lives of 800,000 young people and their families would be an act of cruelty

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is a popular and successful program that works and should be preserved. We hope that President Trump recognizes this fact and retains the program, instead of making yet another divisive policy change that upends the lives and futures of hundreds of thousands of aspiring Americans.

If, however, the Trump Administration does end DACA, we expect it will rely on obfuscation to downplay criticism. If they announce the end of DACA via the termination of DACA renewals and applications, they will attempt to portray that as a humane and compassionate middle ground decision; but it would be just the opposite. For example, check out with notorious anti-immigrant crusader, Breitbart columnist, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said on Fox News this morning about that possibility (per the Washington Times):

There is a way the president can do it that does show some compassion for the situation of these people and that is to simply allow them to expire. And so a person who got a DACA amnesty yesterday has two years to live and work in the United States. Allow that person’s amnesty, illegal though it is, to continue for two years…

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

If Kris Kobach says an immigration policy decision shows ‘compassion,’ that’s a big blinking sign that tells you it does the exact opposite. Ending the DACA program is NOT a way for the President to treat Dreamers with ‘great heart.’ Just the opposite is true. It will upend the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people who are American in all but paperwork, and terrify millions of families. It will go down in history as cruel and inhumane, and the first draft of history should reflect this reality.

See below for our guide to how to interpret White House spin should the President end DACA. 

THEY MIGHT SAY: We’re phasing out the program humanely; people can work until their work permits expire.

WHAT THIS REALLY MEANS: If the Administration ends the renewal of work permits and deportation protections for current DACA beneficiaries, and refuses to accept new applications for DACA, the impact will be profound and immediate. It will upend lives. Around 1,400 young people will lose their jobs every single day over the next two years. Children who are just turning sixteen and are finally eligible for the program will not be able apply. The documents people need to live their daily lives – such as work permits and driver’s licenses – will expire along with their DACA.  This isn’t a humane way to phase out anything: it’s devastating and dream-crushing for both young people and their families.

THEY MIGHT SAY: DACA is unconstitutional. We were forced to end it.

WHAT THIS REALLY MEANS: Despite the long history of presidents of both parties implementing similar policies, and the deep well of legal analysis proving DACA is legal, does anyone really believe this President and his team have conducted a careful constitutional analysis about the extent of executive authority to reach this decision? Greg Sargent of the Washington Post obliterates this notion in a powerful piece. With tongue in cheek, he writes. “It is a truly shocking coincidence that the same advisers who are telling Trump that DACA is unconstitutional were also the ones most responsible for the disguised Muslim ban and also pushed Trump to pardon Joe Arpaio.”

THEY MIGHT SAY: We’re doing this to focus on criminals.

WHAT THIS REALLY MEANS: If talk of MS-13 and “bad hombres” is scary, maybe Americans won’t notice that this Administration is actually going after the easy targets – young people who are going to college, starting businesses, paying taxes and using their educations to grow the economy; immigrants who are complying with ICE orders of supervision and showing up at ICE offices for “check-ins;” and immigrants who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and are arrested as “collaterals.”

THEY MIGHT SAY: We said we would do this with “heart,” and we meant it. Dreamers will not be priorities for deportation.

WHAT THIS REALLY MEANS: Nothing. ICE Director Homan literally said that there is “no population off the table” when it comes to deportations. Even with DACA in place, ICE has occasionally gone after Dreamers: Daniel Ramirez was detained for six weeks after ICE said he was in a gang when he wasn’t; Riccy Enriquez Perdomo was arrested after she went to pay a bond for someone else; and Juan Manuel Montes was deported in the middle of the night. Vague promises that those that had DACA won’t be priority means nothing in the era of “unshackled” ICE and CBP agents.

THEY MIGHT SAY: We don’t plan to use the information contained in DACA files to go after these young people — unless we have evidence of criminality.

WHAT THIS REALLY MEANS: At any moment, DHS may decide to access names, addresses, names of family members and more to target Dreamers and their families for deportation. As ICE Director Homan recently said, DHSwants people to be afraid. There are no guarantees anymore under this Administration. Every man, woman, and child with a paperwork issue is a target for deportation.

Added Sharry:

We implore all of those paying close attention to this debate, especially journalists who attempt to make sense of an announcement by the Trump Administration, to get the story right.

There is no such thing as a ‘humane winding down’ of the DACA policy. If new applications are stopped and renewals are ended, hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of families will be plunged into crisis. Young people will start to lose jobs, leave universities, and lose the right to drive. Families will scramble to move from addresses contained in DACA applications. Businesses will begin to lose valued employees. And America’s reputation as a welcoming nation will be severely damaged, perhaps permanently. Such a decision will go down as a defining moment in the Trump era and will be recorded by history as a turn that will be forever regretted.

We understand the impulse to normalize politics and normalize a big White House decision. But there is nothing normal about this President, this White House, or a decision to savage the futures of hundreds of thousands of young, aspiring Americans.